port digitalisation

Port Community System: Marking the evolution of a digital ecosystem

Post By : Basundhara Choudhury
Post Date : August 12, 2021
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Reading Time: 4 minutes

With India’s maritime sector poised to grow significantly with increase in international and domestic trade volumes, the coming of a strong, unified system for enhancing connectivity and information among the stakeholders holds paramount importance. We look at how port community system heralds the evolution of a digitalized maritime industry.

A wave of digitalisation has hit the maritime industry.

The advent of the port community system into the maritime industry is only emblematic of how gravely the industry was in need of a technological current to hit its shores.

The osmosis of technology into the crevices of the maritime industry comes at a time when the country’s logistics sector needs it the most.

Facilitating better logistics:

India’s logistics costs contribute to 19 percent of the GDP, and remain among the highest in the world. Several studies prove that resorting to coastal shipping and inland waterways would end up 60 to 80 percent cheaper than road or rail transport. If coastal shipping is used to complement road and rail transport in India, it would amount to significant logistics cost saving.

With India’s infrastructure sector, especially the maritime sector, poised to grow significantly with increase in international and domestic trade volumes, it is imperative that a strong, unified system be put in place for enhanced connectivity and information. 

In the wake of increased necessity of having such a robust platform that keeps stakeholders connected and provides access to an unambiguous source of information, a Port Community System (PCS) can serve as a trusted, unified platform that serves the purpose of connectivity, information and reliability for the maritime industry.

PCS optimises, manages and automates port and logistics processes through a single submission of data and connecting transport and logistics chains.

Usage of Port Community Systems in various seaports has proved to be very efficient for all port operations. Paperless, accurate and timely data, reducing congestion in ports bring huge amounts of added value to the port, business and government parties using the services of Port Community Systems.

Port Community Systems: Redefining Maritime infrastructure

How is Port Community System changing maritime infrastructure? Can we look at it as a platform that can facilitate stakeholder communication and cooperation?

Evolution of a digital ecosystem:

At a time when traditional architectures have a comparatively slower information creation process, the advent of PCS marks the evolution of a true digital ecosystem. Luc Arnouts, Vice President International Relations & Networks, Antwerp Port Authority offers his views on the same.

“A PCS, traditionally and historically, is there to serve his community stakeholders with electronic services for facilitating data communication and information exchange in the domain of supply chain and transport logistics.”

~ Luc Arnouts, Vice President International Relations & Networks, Antwerp Port Authority

“These goals and objectives are not changing and the same purpose is still there, however due to the rapid changing technology and strengthened by the VUCA-world where we are living in, the way to offer the services and the way to implement the services within a Port Community System is changing”.

Such systems are more and more evolving in true digital ecosystems, whereby the traditional architectures in bilateral exchange of information are tending to create slower information processing and error-prone processes.

PCS 1x: Towards becoming a National Logistics Platform

Designed as a single digital platform connecting multiple stakeholders of the port ecosystem, Port Community System (PCS) 1x was envisaged to be an open platform in a manner that allows for coexistence of multiple service providers to provide EXIM related services independently or by using various options of establishing connectivity.

Dr Abhijit Singh, Executive Director, Indian Ports Association (IPA) shares more about the emergence of PCS.

“PCS 1x is evolving further to a world class National Logistics Platform. NLP Marine to be designed as an “open platform” and in a manner that allows coexistence of multiple service providers to provide EXIM related services independently or by using connectivity options and data as authorized by IPA. The design shall enable business users to amend and manage business rules relating to routing of messages, workflows etc. through a suitable rules engine and service catalogue should be configurable; without the aid of technical personnel”, he shares.

While talking about the Latch-on feature, he underlines its overall impact on facilitating trade.

“The Latch-on feature facilitates the trade in providing the required features that cannot be directly embedded into any Single Window Platform even though the features/ functionalities are required for seamless data and document exchange. Latch-ons achieve this without duplicating the effort. Therefore, in essence, PCS 1x is going to revolutionise the way maritime and logistics stakeholders communicate and cooperative with each other”.

~ Dr Abhijit Singh, Executive Director, Indian Ports Association (IPA)

NLP Marine + PCS 1x platform is envisioned as the central hub in all interactions with various stakeholders viz. Port, Terminals Shipping Lines/ Agents, CFS and Customs Brokers, Importer / Exporter etc. These interactions are expected to take place in real time. The communication among the stakeholders should be fast, reliable, recordable and device independent. Furthermore, the value-add system should be able to provide audit trail of all processed transactions.

Securing exchange between stakeholders:

As a unified platform that promotes collaboration and exchange of information and connectivity, a Port community system will act as a bridge between stakeholders and improve the visibility of the entire industry. This will in turn bolster communication and operations within the entire industry.

Ruwan Waidyaratne, Managing Director – Hayleys Advantis Limited says that a port Community System will definitely help secure exchange of information between the stakeholders and improve visibility and efficiency for the entire industry.

“This electronic platform will allow maritime infrastructure related functions to be carried out in an optimal manner and improve Ease of Doing Business and Logistics Performance significantly. It also reduces the number of interfaces into different government authorities and will reduce bureaucracy and red tape.”

~ Ruwan Waidyaratne, Managing Director – Hayleys Advantis Limited

Understanding PCS as an enabler for efficient maritime trade

How can cloud-based platforms help ports multiply their operational efficiency?

Cloud-based platforms can go a long way in enabling ports to take their operational efficiency to newer heights. As a facilitator that offers ports the requisite services that are needed to escalate their business, cloud-based systems already have a clear advantage of scalability…

This is an abridged version of the interview. To read the complete article, click here.

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